Thursday, January 7, 2016

Many Lessons: One Post

I took four lessons the week of 12/14, two with JM, one with a jumping trainer (RB), and one with a flat trainer (NC).

First, the JM lessons: JM just got back from a week with her trainer, and it had totally given her some new insight, a bit of invigorated focus, and a pile of new exercises. We worked on about ten million 10-meter circles and changes of direction at the trot, keeping him supple and quiet through my aids, not letting him fall side to side with his hindquarters, etc. Really great lessons, but difficult to recap in any form of briefness. (As an aside, that was the last week I'll be riding that horse with regularity - I'm going to miss all my intense dressage lessoning!)

Then, Tuesday, I rode with NC. She wanted to see Kat move around the round pen untacked. So I brushed and booted her up and we headed to the round pen when NC arrived. Kat was a pill. She was hella spooky on the walk down to the arena and once in the round pen started doing this super fun thing where she crazy trots halfway around, slides to a stop, rears to spin, and then crazy trots halfway around. Wash and repeat. Eventually she gave up and started weaving like a maniac at the gate.

Great impression, mare.

Obviously not the mare but it is a VERY dirty Tango who somehow still manages to look handsome
NC suggests that we focus on spending some time in the round-pen, rewarding her only when she settles the f*** down. Ignore, ignore, ignore, but the moment she settles down give her lots of scratches and love. NC thinks that Kat has little confidence in herself, but that allowing her to feel rewarded for demonstrating confidence would be a good thing. 

Not as dirty as Tango, but a good look at her muscling/weight. I think she looks good.
Then I tacked her up (where she dragged me all over the barn while bridling her. Uggghhh horses why) and I got a little bit of a talking to about ground manners. On the lunge line Kat was a perfect lady, and once I mounted up she was pretty well behaved. Of note under saddle:
  • ask for a more forward walk
  • practice trot/walk transitions more from my breath and seat
  • trot around without much rein contact and let her figure herself out
  • practice half-halting with my seat in the canter and stop laughing at her when she bucks

This video also includes footage from the jumping lesson, which I will recap below.

This was hands down one of the best jumping lessons I've ever had. We didn't even jump all that much, just a sort of figure eight with  a centerline (I wasn't going to share my sad attempt at a diagram but then looking at it again made me laugh so what the heck)

but we really dug in to what it means to really ride the canter and approach fences in softness and balance. Basically if she starts taking over in the few strides before the fence, I ride a complete halt. Even if her nose ends up pressed against the fence. Because no matter how big the jump, there is no reason for her to ignore a half-halt. Unless, and this was important for me to remember, I forgot to really let go of her after a half-halt. The moment my aids became unreliable or I held her down too much, we reverted immediately back to leaning on one another and charging the jumps. But if I rode with the expectation of complete lightness, that's the horse I rode.

It was amazing.


She felt so good. It's an impossible thing to adequately explain, but believe me when I say that I'm not sure I've ever had more fun just cantering around over 2' fences.

Anyhow, it was a good week for lessons.


  1. I'm happy you had some good, educational lessons!

  2. ooooh sounds like a ton of awesome lessons, and i love that exercise!!! video didn't work for me tho :(

    1. I think I fixed it... would you try again and let me know if it worked?

    2. works now - she looks great!!! and yea, definitely stealing the exercise, i can really see how it allowed you to focus on the canter instead of the jumps

  3. Tango is such a poser for the camera :) Glad you had some great lessons!